Infrastructure costs of over £300m put Winchfield new town plans in doubt

Construction Workers

Construction Workers

A new study by Hart District Council has highlighted significant barriers to future housing delivery in the district. We estimate that the high level costs of meeting these infrastructure gaps might be over £300m.

The study covered 4 areas:

  • Education
  • Transport
  • Utilities
  • Flood Risk

Education was highlighted as having significant barriers to delivery, with a high level cost estimate of £80-100m (higher than the £62m estimate we put together back in February).

Transport was also highlighted as a significant barrier to delivery, but no cost estimate was given.  However, the possibility of needing a new junction on the M3 was discussed.  It is difficult to see how a brand new junction will give much change from £100m, given a new junction at Birmingham airport will cost £250m.  Of course other roads and bridges in the area will also need to be upgraded that we estimate at £35-40m.

The report also discussed railway provision and suggested that the existing railway bridges over the roads in Winchfield would need to be upgraded and that Winchfield station itself may need to be replaced with a new station at Murrell Green.  The report made no mention of the fact that these bridges and Winchfield station itself are now listed on  Hampshire’s Archaeology and Historic Buildings Record.  Amazingly, railways were not considered to be a significant barrier to housing delivery even though no site for a new station has been identified and the costs of such a construction and the new roads that would be needed have not been evaluated. The recent improvements to Fleet station cost >£8m, it is difficult to see how a totally new station, including platforms, buildings, signalling, car parks and new road access would cost less than £25m. The recent Network Rail funding debacle puts such an investment in grave doubt.

Provision of foul water capacity was identified as a significant barrier to housing delivery although no costs were identified.

The potential need to put the existing high voltage electricity lines that cross Winchfield underground was raised. This costs around £20/km, so would probably cost round £50m.  This was not considered to be a significant barrier.

The report did not cover the costs of additional healthcare facilities that would be required to cope with the increased population all these extra houses would create.

Adding all this up, and the total costs will be in excess of £300m.  We have reported before that Hart estimates that there is currently a £78m funding gap for infrastructure and Hampshire estimates a funding gap of £1.9bn across the county. All of the costs above will add to that gap.  It is simply not credible to believe that such large costs will be funded by developer contributions.

The study recommended that further studies be carried out to examine these issues in greater detail:

  • Identify potential implications for infrastructure provision of the Preferred Housing Distribution Strategy (June 2015) which broadly set out a higher level of growth than hitherto within existing settlements
  • Commencement of a full Transport Assessment (TA) potentially utilising the existing HCC North Hampshire Transport Model (NHTM)
  • Commencement of an Integrated Water Management Strategy (IWMS)
  • Continued engagement with HCC (particularly with regard to school place provision) and with South West Trains (SWT) and Network Rail (NR)
  • Consolidation of information into an updated Infrastructure Delivery Schedule (IDS) to support both the emerging local plan and community infrastructure levy (CIL) at public examination
  • Continued engagement with the Enterprise M3 Local Enterprise Partnership (E3LEP)

None of these tasks appear to be identified in the work plan for the Local Plan, so there is little doubt that the Local Plan project is now massively behind schedule.

Why is it important for Hart residents to oppose the Rushmoor Local Plan?

 

Example of Urban Sprawl

Example of Urban Sprawl

We have received some feedback questioning why Hart District residents should contribute to Rushmoor Borough Council’s consultation on its Draft Local Plan.

The main reasons are:

  1. Help fend off the extra 1,600 houses Rushmoor wants Hart to build for them and avoid urban sprawl like that shown above.
  2. Challenge the Strategic Housing Market Assessment (SHMA) that has led to the combined Hart, Surrey Heath and Rushmoor housing requirement being set so high.  If we are successful in this, then Surrey Heath and Rushmoor don’t need to foist houses on Hart and the whole need for a new town at Winchfield or anywhere else goes away
  3. Push for more of the housing requirement to be built on the 196 hectares of surplus brownfield employment land.
  4. Point out the fundamental flaw of the combined £158m infrastructure funding deficit across Rushmoor and Hart (and £1.9bn funding deficit across Hampshire) that will mean we will get all of the houses but none of the infrastructure spending we need to build the healthcare facilities, expand rail capacity, fix broken roads and build the schools we need.

Please download the pre-prepared feedback forms, fill in your details and send off to plan@rushmoor.gov.uk.  The consultation closes on 20 July 2015.

 

Rushmoor Local Plan Response Form

 

Additional Response to Rushmoor Local Plan

link link

Owens Farm saved as Hop Garden Road Appeal dismissed

Owens Farm Hop Garden Road Hook

Owens Farm Hop Garden Road Hook

We found out today that the Hop Garden Road appeal we attended was dismissed, so the land at Owens Farm, Hook has been protected from development.

This is great news, although it has to be said that it isn’t at all clear whether the evidence we submitted swayed matters one way or the other.

However, it was upheld that the council does have a current five year land supply.  Our evidence, on this occasion was in support of the council, indicating that there was in fact a land supply far in excess of five years because the Strategic Housing Market Assessment (SHMA) was too high and the housing supply didn’t include the brownfield redevelopment of employment sites recently started.

Charles Church Homes argued that the Housing Market Assessment was under-cooked and Hart should be building far more houses, in particular, the 1,600 houses from Rushmoor.

So, we should celebrate a small victory.

Massive surplus of brownfield employment land but Rushmoor wants Hart to concrete over green fields

Empty Offices at Farnborough, Rushmoor Borough, Hampshire.

Empty Offices at Farnborough, Rushmoor Borough, Hampshire.

The Employment Land Review (ELR) shows there is a massive surplus of around 600K sq m employment space occupying around 195 Ha of land across the combined area of Hart District, Surrey Heath and Rushmoor Boroughs. Yet, Rushmoor is seeking to protect 96 hectares of this land whilst at the same time trying to force Hart to build 1,600 houses for them on our beautiful green fields.

 Employment Space (sq m)
Overall Requirement to 2032 (a)266,368
Current vacant space (b)527,840
Sites with planning permission (c)338,187
Surplus in 2032 (b+c-a)599,659

If you would like to ask Rushmoor to revise its draft local plan, please download our pre-prepared response form and send it to plan@rushmoor.gov.uk.

 

Rushmoor Local Plan Response Form

 

The analysis to support the conclusion is shown below.  We posted earlier that the ELR is based on the same flawed jobs forecasts as the housing market assessment that predict a near doubling of the job creation rate we achieved in the period 1998-2012.  However, even if you accept these flawed forecasts and the unnecessary increase in housing it will lead to, the requirement for employment land in the combined economic area is 266K sq m using Rushmoor’s preferred Scenario 3.

Employment Land Requirements for Hart, Surrey Heath and Rushmoor

Employment Land Requirements for Hart, Surrey Heath and Rushmoor

However, as of December 2014, over 527K sq m of employment floorspace was lying vacant.

Vacant Employment Space in Hart Surrey Heath and Rushmoor

Vacant Employment Space in Hart Surrey Heath and Rushmoor

Moreover, there is a glut of employment space all across neighbouring districts with very high levels of vacant office space (note that there are also high vacancy rates on industrial land):

Office vacancy rates in neighbouring districts

Office vacancy rates in neighbouring districts

In addition to the vacant units shown above, there is currently 388K sq m of floorspace on 110 Ha of land that currently has planning permission but is not yet being built:

Unimplemented planning permission in Hart Surrey Heath and Rushmoor

Unimplemented planning permission in Hart Surrey Heath and Rushmoor

Drawing this together, there is a need for 266,000 sq m of space to meet the inflated employment forecasts, there’s currently 527,000 sq m lying vacant, with a further 338,000 sq m with planning permission, but not yet built.  This would leave a surplus of nearly 600,000 sq m of employment space that might occupy around 195 Ha of land, using the same ratio of employment space to land use as the existing planning permissions.

It is clearly ridiculous for all of this land to be protected when even if say 100 Ha is made available, at 100 dwellings per hectare there could be room for 10,000 dwellings, a very large proportion of the overall 24,413 houses that have been allocated to Hart, Surrey Heath and Rushmoor.

Rushmoor protecting acres of vacant offices and asking Hart to build 1,600 houses for them

Empty Offices at Farnborough, Rushmoor Borough, Hampshire.

Empty Offices at Farnborough, Rushmoor Borough, Hampshire.

Rushmoor Borough Council is seeking to protect acres of empty, brownfield office sites, but at the same time it is asking Hart to build 1,600 houses for them because Rushmoor says it can’t meet its own need.  If Hart is forced to take all these houses it makes it more likely we will have to build a new town and concrete over our beautiful green fields and countryside.

Bravehart has been out and about again and taken photos of 15 vacant employment sites across Rushmoor.  This is far from a comprehensive assessment of all of the vacant sites in Rushmoor, but it does illustrate the scale of the opportunity available. It has subsequently emerged that Rushmoor want to protect 96 Ha of brownfield land even though their own Employment Land Review predicted a massive surplus at the end of the plan period.

  • We Heart Hart's Mascot - Bravehart
    We Heart Hart's Mascot - Bravehart

Rushmoor has recently published its draft Local Plan and has asked for comments from the public.  If you are a Hart District resident and you would like them to re-visit their plan and build all of their own need on their own patch, then you can use the pre-prepared from on the link below.  All you need to do is:

  1. Download the Local Plan response form from the link below.
  2. On page 3, fill in your name and contact details and type your name and date in the boxes at the bottom of the page.
  3. Review the comments made and feel free to add, amend or delete as you see fit.
  4. Save the document, attach it to an email and send to plan@rushmoor.gov.uk
  5. Share a link to this page to all your friends and family as well as any sports clubs or community groups you belong to via word of mouth, email, Facebook and Twitter and ask them to put in a response and share this page again.
  6. If you have not already done so, please sign and share our petition too.
Rushmoor Local Plan Response Form

 

More detail here.

 

Empty Offices at Southwood Business Park, Rushmoor Borough, Hampshire.

Empty Offices at Southwood Business Park, Rushmoor Borough, Hampshire.

Empty Offices at Southwood Business Park, Rushmoor Borough, Hampshire.

Vacant Offices at Southwood Business Park, Rushmoor Borough, Hampshire.

Empty Offices at Southwood Business Park, Rushmoor Borough, Hampshire.

Empty Offices at Southwood Business Park, Rushmoor Borough, Hampshire.

Empty Offices at Southwood Business Park, Rushmoor Borough, Hampshire.

Empty Offices at Southwood Business Park, Rushmoor Borough, Hampshire.

Empty Offices at Cody Technology Business Park, Rushmoor Borough, Hampshire.

Empty Offices at Cody Technology Business Park, Rushmoor Borough, Hampshire.

Empty Offices at Farnborough Business Park, Rushmoor Borough, Hampshire.

Vacant Offices at Farnborough Business Park, Rushmoor Borough, Hampshire.

Empty Offices at Farnborough, Rushmoor Borough, Hampshire.

Empty Offices at Farnborough, Rushmoor Borough, Hampshire.

Empty Offices at Farnborough, Rushmoor Borough, Hampshire.

Empty Offices at Farnborough, Rushmoor Borough, Hampshire.

Empty Offices at Farnborough Business Park, Rushmoor Borough, Hampshire.

Empty Offices at Farnborough Business Park, Rushmoor Borough, Hampshire.

Empty Offices at Farnborough Aerospace Business Park, Rushmoor Borough, Hampshire.

Empty Offices at Farnborough Aerospace Business Park, Rushmoor Borough, Hampshire.

Empty Offices at Farnborough Aerospace Business Park, Rushmoor Borough, Hampshire.

Empty Offices at Farnborough Aerospace Business Park, Rushmoor Borough, Hampshire.

Empty Offices at Farnborough Aerospace Business Park, Rushmoor Borough, Hampshire.

Empty Offices at Farnborough Aerospace Business Park, Rushmoor Borough, Hampshire.

Empty Offices at Farnborough Aerospace Business Park, Rushmoor Borough, Hampshire.

Empty Offices at Farnborough Aerospace Business Park, Rushmoor Borough, Hampshire.

Empty Offices at near Aldershot, Rushmoor Borough, Hampshire.

Empty Offices at near Aldershot, Rushmoor Borough, Hampshire.

Empty Offices at Southwood Business Park, Rushmoor Borough, Hampshire.

Empty Offices at Southwood Business Park, Rushmoor Borough, Hampshire.

 

Hart District and Rushmoor can meet their housing needs from brownfield sites for 50 years or more

Hartland Park (Pyestock) near Fleet, Hart District, Hampshire, warehouse development not started

Brownfield site: Hartland Park (Pyestock) near Fleet, Hart District, Hampshire

A new paper by young architecture graduate, Gareth Price shows that Hart District and Rushmoor Borough could build 49,000 homes on brownfield sites by shedding the old models of the past and adopting a more modern approach of building higher density developments in existing urban areas.  This would avoid urban sprawl and protect our green fields to act as amenity space for the enjoyment of all.

Gareth’s document goes through many of the brownfield sites in both Hart and Rushmoor and applies modern techniques to demonstrate how more can be made of existing land to build more affordable homes on brownfield sites in urban areas to meet the needs of younger people who are struggling to get on the housing ladder and the elderly who will more, smaller more manageable homes closer existing amenities and infrastructure.

The paper illustrates also illustrates where these techniques have been applied in London and on the continent to create vibrant, cohesive communities.

This paper is exactly the sort of thing that We Heart Hart had in mind when we put forward our 5-point plan for improving Hart’s approach to the Local Plan where we called for a competition to be held amongst architects to illustrate the art of the possible on our brownfield sites and provide a vision to guide the regeneration of our urban town centres as an alternative to endless urban sprawl across our green fields.

No doubt there will be some who will disagree with the level of development intensity Gareth proposes for some areas in Hart, where he concludes we could build 25,000 homes on them.  However, it is clear that the capacity of the brownfield sites he has studied is very much greater than the 700 dwellings Hart has said we could deliver over the period up to 2032.  Indeed, according to our brownfield monitor the capacity is already up to 2,360 units in just 6 months.  We must challenge Rushmoor to make more of their brownfield sites.

The paper can be downloaded below:

 

A sustainable approach to building on brownfield sites in Hart District and Rushmoor

 

Link

Hart Council rolls over and starts to plan for an extra 1,600 houses from Rushmoor

Is this what we want Hart to turn into?

Do we want Hart District to turn into an urban sprawl?

We Heart Hart understands that at the Local Plan Steering Group last week councillors were told that they will have to start planning for an extra 1,600 houses from Rushmoor.  We have previously warned that by planning for a new town, Hart was creating capacity that would force it to take the unmet needs of Surrey Heath and Rushmoor. Indeed the advice from Peter Village QC was that Hart should pursue the duty to cooperate discussions in a “robust and inquisitive manner”.

This would take Hart’s target to 2032 up to 9,134, up from the current (in our view overblown) target of 7,534.  This is simply wasting the good work that has identified additional brownfield capacity in the district.

However, Hart Council’s actions are going much further than the advice they received from the Planning Inspector as recently as March 2015:

“Tactically, Hart should show to an inspector that it acknowledges the housing problem, and accept that it is likely to have to take an element of unmet need now. This would show an inspector that Hart is being reasonable in the circumstances. In practice this could mean taking an element of Rushmoor’s need now, but dealing with further shortfalls in Rushmoor and Surrey Heath through an early review once there is more certainty over what those authorities can deliver. Hart would need to quantify the amount of unmet need it is agreeing to take in its plan. It would also need to justify why it’s not taking all the unmet need.”

So, far from taking “an element” of Rushmoor’s need now, they are proposing to plan to take the whole lot.  Of course there are no reports yet of how they are going to close the existing £78m funding gap, let alone how to fund the extra infrastructure required to support the extra 1,600 houses we have to build for Rushmoor.

The whole reason why we are being put in this position is that the combined housing market area of Hart and Rushmoor and Surrey Heath Boroughs is being asked to build too many houses because the Strategic Housing Market Assessment (SHMA) is based on some dodgy forecasts.  If the SHMA was brought down to more realistic levels, then neither Rushmoor nor Surrey Heath would have a shortfall.

We need to challenge Rushmoor’s plan now.  We have created a template letter, together with an up to date distribution list of all of the Hart District Councillors and it is available for download below.  Please download it, and all you need to do is cut and past the contents into an email; choose your local councillor email adresses;  add your name and address; alter the contents as you see fit and send it off.  We have also created a template document for challenging Rushmoor’s plan.

Letter to Hart Councillors rejecting proposal to take 1,600 houses from Rushmoor
Rushmoor Local Plan Response Form

 

Please sign and share our petition and support our 5-point plan to change course:

 

Go to Petition

 

This story has been covered in Get Hampshire.

 

Link

Hart Council gives go ahead for two office conversions

Vacant brownfield Block at Ancells Farm, Fleet, Hart District, Hampshire

Vacant Office at Ancells Farm, Fleet, Hampshire

Further to our posts about the additional brownfield capacity in Hart District, the council have given the go ahead for two office conversions.

The first is at Pioneer House on Ancells Farm, Fleet and the second is at Providence House, Bartley Wood, Hook.

The Ancell’s Farm, Fleet development is for 33 units and the Bartley Wood, Hook development is for 113 apartments.

Overall, this look to be a welcome development because it relieves pressure on green field development in the district.  However, we would prefer it, if these developments were carried out as part of a master plan to convert certain areas to residential use from office use as opposed to piecemeal development along with necessary infrastructure.

These developments were already counted in our brownfield tracker.

We need to find more of these developments so we can avoid building a new town in Hart and protect our valuable green fields.

Hart Council Local Plan behind Schedule

Hart District Local Plan Project Behind Schedule

Hart District Local Plan Project Behind Schedule

Hart Council is falling behind its own schedule for the delivery of the Local Plan.  This is exposing the district to increasing pressures from developers who have more latitude to push through inappropriate development when there is no Local Plan in place. This does not engender a great deal of confidence that the rest of the project will proceed to schedule.

According to their own schedule they are apparently slipping in these areas:

  • The Employment Land Review is not complete – they have consulted, but not published an updated document.  It is based on the same pie in the sky job forecasts as the SHMA.
  • The Retail and Main Town uses should have been finished in March. There is no document about this subject beyond 2012 on Hart’s website.
  • The landscape capacity assessment should have been completed in April, but again nothing published on their website.
  • Settlement hierarchy paper should have been completed in May.
  • A shortlist of strategic sites for Phase 2 testing should have been complete in April, but it is my understanding that this decision has yet to be taken.
  • The Vision should have been completed in May, again nothing published.

After receiving an unsatisfactory response to a question raised at Hart Council back in April, we raised a Freedom of Information request to receive a copy of the project they are following to deliver the Local Plan. The document we received can be found here. It is clear they are suffering from “unwarranted optimism”.

We Heart Hart Petition breaks 2,000 barrier

We Heart Hart Campaign Logo

We Heart Hart Campaign Logo

The We Heart Hart petition is now really taking off, breaking through the 2,000 barrier over the weekend. This is approaching four times the number of valid responses to Hart Council’s consultation that took place in Autumn 2014 and more than 9 times the number of people (220) of said they favoured a new settlement.

It seems that the people of Hart are backing our 5-point plan for change and waking up to the reality that the Council’s plans will:

Created using the Donation Thermometer plugin https://wordpress.org/plugins/donation-thermometer/.2,350Raised 3,993 towards the 2,350 target.3,993Raised 3,993 towards the 2,350 target.170%
  • Turn the northern part of Hart will turn into a single urban sprawl when there is an alternative of building higher density in urban areas to help rejuvenate our high streets
  • Ignore many brownfield sites untouched all over the district where we could build housing
  • Destroy our environment and the very nature of Hart’s unique appeal – the reason we all love living here.

If you would like to join our campaign, please sign and share our petition:

 

Go to Petition

 

Surely it is now time for Hart Council to think again, act on the legal opinion describing their position as “hopeless”,  focus on brownfield first and listen to the people.